Want to Improve Your Child’s Gut Health? Here Are 5 Simple WaysTuesday Aug 30, 2022
As a parent, you want the best for your child. You want them to live long, happy, and productive lives. This means keeping your kids in good health is at the top of your priority list.
What’s the key to keeping your child healthy? More and more research points to gut health as being a primary driver of overall health. Another way to think about it is: A healthy child starts with a healthy gut.
Keep reading to find out more about gut health for kids and what you can do to improve your child’s gut health.
Why Should You Care About Your Child’s Gut Health?
Science says that around elementary school age, a child’s gut microbiome (which describes the trillions of bacteria that make up the digestive tract) is already largely established. That makes improving your child’s gut health while they’re young extremely important.
It’s easy (and natural) to think about gut health just in terms of stomach issues or digestion. But the truth is, it goes way beyond that. Roughly 70% of our immune system can be found in the gut. So whether it’s fighting a flu bug, dealing with constipation (check out these natural stool softeners ), ear aches, or a specific condition like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s , good gut health provides immune support to keep your child healthy.
Not only that but gut health influences mental health . It can also impact child behavior (i.e. acting out or frequent tantrums) and their ability to concentrate.
Does it seem like your child is always sick? Are they tired a lot? What about skin issues like acne or eczema? These are also signs of poor gut health in children.
Improving Your Child’s Gut Health: 5 Easy Ways
1. Nourish the “good guys” in their gut
The “good guys” in this case are the healthy bacteria in your child’s gut. And to feed them and help them grow, this means getting plenty of probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Prebiotics feed the gut’s good bacteria and help them multiply. For kids’ gut health, some of the best prebiotic foods include bananas, oats, and berries. Combined, they make one delicious gut-friendly breakfast bowl! Asparagus is another good prebiotic food but let’s be honest with ourselves, what child is really reaching for asparagus on their own?!
To get more probiotics in your child’s diet (which are live cultures of good bacteria), here are some tasty and kid-friendly gut health foods yours are sure to love:
Cutting back on processed foods and foods high in sugar (i.e. foods that feed the “bad” bacteria) can do wonders for improving your child’s gut health. Also, reducing sources of saturated fat (coconut, meat, full-fat dairy) helps prevent the overgrowth of bad microbes like Bacteroides and Alistiptes species, which can be linked to stomach pain, gas, and bloating.
2. Use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary
When it comes to gut health for kids, antibiotics can cause some changes. Some good, some bad. But a lot of the time, unfortunately, the good doesn’t end up outweighing the bad.
Taking antibiotics kills bad bacteria. But the thing is, they also kill off healthy bacteria too. And not having as much good bacteria in your child’s gut puts their long-term health at risk.
Another thing is that antibiotics can cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria, like C. diff, to thrive. This bacteria can cause life-threatening diarrhea or, at the very least, inflammation and leaky gut if left unchecked.
On top of all that, other antibiotic side effects include stomach pain, constipation, nausea, and bloating. In other words, a whole lot of some not-so-fun things. If you have any questions, be sure to bring them up with your healthcare provider.
3. Try probiotic supplements
Probiotic supplements are a nice gut health for kids ace card. They’re great for boosting the “good” bacteria in your child’s gut and facilitating a healthier and more balanced gut microbiome.
Your kid won’t just take anything though (think back to all the times you’ve had to trick them into eating their vegetables). So when looking at different probiotics out there, it’s important to find one that won’t cause you a hassle.
At Sun Genomics, our personalized kids' probiotics make it easy on parents. Just add one-scoop-a-day to your child’s favorite drink for an easily-digestible probiotic! Gluten-free, non-GMO, and they don’t contain any artificial preservatives.
4. Let your kids outside to roll around in the dirt
This might seem counterintuitive on the subject of gut health for kids. Aren’t there just all types of bad bacteria just floating around outside, especially in the dirt? If you want them to remain healthy, shouldn’t rolling around in the dirt be the last thing you want your kids to do?
Super strict hygiene rules can actually prevent your kids from being exposed to different microbes that help build up their body’s defenses, which can lead to a weaker immune system later on down the line.
Research has even found a positive correlation between kids who grew up on farms and their immunity. This may be in part to their stronger immune systems that they gained from being exposed to all sorts of dirt, hay, plants, and animals on the farm.
Moral of the story is: Don’t be afraid to let your kids go outside, play with the dog, interact with other kids, and get a little dirty. It’ll benefit them in the long-run!
5. Physical activity and more sleep
Physical activity has been linked to improved gut health for kids. It relieves constipation and makes for a balanced gut. Not to mention, getting up and moving is also a way for your child to release built-up energy (and save them from bouncing off the walls like a pinball machine later).
When it comes to gut health for kids and sleep, research shows not getting enough means a sluggish immune system and gut imbalances. So make sure your child is getting enough shut-eye!Summary on How to Improve Your Child’s Gut Health
The ultimate sign of health and wellness is a healthy gut. Working to improve your child’s gut health now can set them up for a healthy life years into the future.
Just as a refresher on improving your child’s gut health:
- Feed the good guys in your kid’s gut by getting plenty of probiotics and prebiotics
- Use antibiotics sparingly because they kill off good bacteria
- Try kids probiotics to increase the healthy bacteria in your child’s gut
- Let your kids outside to expose them to different microbes that build up their immune system
- Encourage your kids to be active and get more sleep
Interested in learning more about gut health for kids? Check out this post where we dive into how a mom’s gut health impacts her child’s.
About the Author
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams.